NW FCA — and Coronavirus

by Dan Eide

The coronavirus pandemic has very much affected the Northwest part of the U.S. as well as the FCA churches there. At this point in time:

  • Per the governor of Washington State, all churches with 250 and greater must suspend services, or ensure no greater than 250 gather at any one time.
  • Many churches, including less than 250 people are suspending services and live streaming their services.
  • Microsoft, Boeing and Amazon have had their employees telecommute as much as they are able. Businesses, especially Chinese-owned businesses, are being financially impacted due to fear of the virus.
  • Washington State announced on March 12  that all public and private schools in three counties (King — including Seattle, Snohomish, and Pierce) must suspend classes until April 27th. (Most of the FCA churches in the Northwest are within these 3 counties.) With the closing of public and private schools, it is unclear how this will impact youth and children programs in churches. It appears, however, this will have severe impact on education process for students, especially for families with special-needs children who typically would be in school will now have to figure out how their family life will need to adjust.
  • The I-5 freeway corridor running through King, Snohomish, and Pierce County — usually some of the busiest in the nation — is strangely no longer congested.
  • Hospitals have tents set up outside entrances to exam people before being cleared to enter buildings — or turned away.
  • All venues for large groups, such as sporting and entertainment events, have been told to cancel.
  • So far 31 people have died in Washington State because of COVID-19.

Our churches in this 3-county region will be impacted in numerous ways, including how they receive regular tithes and offerings. Many congregations already have systems for online giving in place. Those who do not yet have online giving as an option will face real challenges, especially considering the fact that ministry and missions work are not suspended during this time. Other normal church expenses, such as rent, mortgage, and utilities also remain in place.

Many churches are responding with more strategic communiques to their people during this time. Emailing members about church news, events, and ways to donate are helping during this unusual time.

This pandemic is especially beginning to take a toll on those with preexisting mental health issues. Many find the meeting place of church to be a place of great comfort to be loved on by the Body of Christ. Ministry to them will continue, but things will be different, and the coming weeks will reveal increased stress on everyone in our region.

In light of all that is happening around our state and nation, the believers here in Washington seem strong. However, churches that were previously under stress are especially vulnerable during this uncertain time. The Church in Washington State, along with their Shepherds and the individual members, all covet the prayers of saints around the nation.

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind,
be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people
(Eph. 6:18).

Dan Eide is pastor of Sisco Heights Community Church in Arlington, Washington.

Other resources:
Dealing with a Virus by John Sprecher, US FCA Lead Elder. Click HERE.
Why Watching TV News Is Bad for Your Health by Richard Doebler, FCA Media Editor. Click HERE.

Dealing with a Virus

by John Sprecher

Every day seems to bring new developments and revelations about the advancing Coronavirus (COVID-19.) At first it seemed far away in China, but now that it has come to most of our states and localities, we are faced with the prospects of dealing with a pandemic.  Schools and businesses are closing and there is the possibility that public meetings, including churches, could be forced to close.

Are you and your congregation prepared for the possibility of not being able to meet publicly for a season? If we are honest, our thoughts go to offerings, budgets, logistics, and a myriad of other practical concerns that come with a disruption of the normal congregational schedule. There are resources that can help with some of those concerns, and if you are already doing online giving, that may be less of a concern — unless we end up with widespread unemployment.

The greater issue we need to address is how do we, as the people of God, respond to the very real needs that are and could be manifesting themselves, such as panic, shortages of food and water, living under quarantine — the list goes on. In times of great need, the opportunity to love our neighbor and care for the sick and needy becomes an opportunity to share the love of Christ, bringing hope and comfort to our community.

Plan for the disruptions in your normal schedules. But more importantly, create a care plan for the members of your congregation and mobilize your people to bless and care for your community.

John Sprecher is the U.S. Lead Elder of the FCA

Download the free resource guide from Christianity Today for churches on the Coronavirus. Click HERE.

Other resources:
NW FCA — and Coronavirus by Dan Eide, pastor of Sisco Heights Community Church in Washington. Click HERE.
From Rich Doebler, FCA Media editor: Why Watching TV News Is Bad for Your Health. Click HERE.




2020 Convention: US Ministers Plan Dialogue and Discussion

When the Fellowship elders met in San Diego last November, they prayed for God’s direction regarding the ministries shared by FCA members — not just for the next decade but beyond. God gave them inspiration and vision, also prompting them to issue a special call to ministers across the U.S.

As a result, they are inviting all U.S. ministers attending the international convention next month to join with them for an extra session prior to the official start of the convention on April 27. The invitation includes two distinct opportunities for ministers:
…..(1) A prayer and worship gathering on Sunday, April 26 beginning at 7 p.m.
…..(2) A meeting for dialogue and discussion on Monday, April 27 beginning at 1:30 p.m.

Both the prayer and the discussion time are open to all ministers attending the convention. You will have the chance to hear about recent developments and strategies — as well as be able to join in the conversation with the U.S. national board and regional elders.

Fellowship elders, who are ministry leaders from various geographical regions of the FCA, hope the dialogue and discussion will further refine the ministry and direction of the Fellowship. They are eager to hear what God is birthing in the hearts and spirits of pastors across the country, and they want to provide the opportunity for participants to identify core ministry values that unite our unique Fellowship.

“This is a chance to provide feedback about key characteristics of what it means to be an ‘FCA church,’ or an ‘FCA minister,” writes Sam Snyder, pastor of Cross Culture Community Church in Minneapolis and current president of the FCA Board. He notes that as a Fellowship we already have, “shared beliefs and practices about what is most important in what we do in ministry — and how we do it.” He anticipates the time in San Diego will expand and articulate the things we already share.

FCA leaders expect the pre-convention gathering of ministers will also help gauge “the pulse” of the Fellowship for the future. Recalling that the FCA was birthed nearly a century ago (in 1922) at a fellowship gathering in St. Paul, Minnesota, Snyder observes that further defining “why we do what we do and the way we do it” will help the ministers and churches of the FCA as they seek to move forward into the next 100 years of ministry together.


John Lewis Named Pastor of Grace Church

John and Angie Lewis

Grace Church of New Glarus, Wisconsin, a small, rural town south of Madison with just over 2,000 people, has named John Lewis as their new lead pastor. For nearly 20 years, John has served the church as its youth pastor, working under the ministry of Pastor Roger Olsen who recently went to be with the Lord.

Grace Church of New Glarus was started in 1992 by a small group of believers. A year later Roger Olsen was called to come and pastor the small congregation of about 50. His faithful ministry and God’s grace over the past 26 years has seen the church grow to around 250 attenders on Sunday mornings. Roger’s steady manner and easy-going personality helped shape the church into a solid work . Even today the congregation, though often crowded, still meets in the renovated but unpretentious storefront building from its early days.

In 1993, while while working on his Master’s Degree at Northern Michigan University in Marquette, Michigan, John Lewis came to know the Lord at a Billy Graham crusade. He soon connected with the Marquette Gospel Tabernacle (now Waters Edge Church) where he was baptized by Pastor Ron Drake. After finishing his studies in Marquette, John felt a strong call to the ministry and in 1995 began attending Christian Life College in Mount Prospect, Illinois.

After graduating in 1999, he did a six-month internship at the Duluth Gospel Tabernacle under the direction of pastors Dean Bjorlin and Rolf Fure. After his internship, John began calling pastors in the FCA directory, which is how he connected with Pastor Roger Olsen in New Glarus. John began his work as youth pastor at Grace Church on April 19, 2000. John and his wife of 17 years, Angie, have two children, Alayna (15) and Noah (14).

John is now looking for a youth pastor to join him in ministering to the families of New Glarus. “Our congregation is a close-knit family with a wide age range,” he notes, from young singles, to young families, to seniors. “We are also multi-cultural,” he adds, “with a charismatic worship style and a strong emphasis on preaching God’s Word.” The church values the congregational testimonies and use of spiritual gifts as well. The Wednesday evening youth meeting averages 35 to 40 students (grades 6 through 12).

If you ask John about the church’s goals, he will offer several emphases: reaching the lost, connecting believers as family, helping them grow in faith, in serving their gifts, and impacting their world for Christ. “One of our biggest challenges at the moment is space,” John observes. “The sanctuary can get pretty tight some Sundays.” The church is in conversation about purchasing land in town to put up a new building.

Applicants for the youth pastor position may send introductions and resumes to:

Pastor John Lewis
Grace Church
P.O. Box 430, 416 2nd Street
New Glarus, WI 53574
OR email: John@gracechurchng.org
OR call: 608-558-2858

Further details about the job description are available by clicking HERE.


Gaining Strength and Health

Derek Forseth

Derek Forseth, pastor of Philadelphia Church, Seattle is now improving after seven weeks in the ICU.

It was Christmas Day that Derek went to the hospital Emergency Room knowing something was not quite “right.” The doctors admitted him because of heart problems, but he has not been able to return home since that day. Some of what Derek has gone through since then is recounted on his CaringBridge page, which you can view by clicking HERE. You can also leave messages there.

After tests and meetings with top Seattle cardiologists, Derek was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. A single bypass surgery on January 9, 2020 was changed to a triple bypass, but still his heart wasn’t strong enough to pump on its own. As a result, another surgery followed five days later to put in a Left Ventricular Assist Device.

A week, however, Derek contracted an E. coli infection in his chest surrounding his heart and lungs. Repeated surgeries followed to “wash out” the infection from his chest cavity. Once the infection was under control, the doctors wired his chest bone back together on February 3, but more surgeries were required to reconnect muscles and skin. All total, Derek has undergone 13 surgical procedures since Christmas.

“It’s been a time of extremes for our family,” says Krista, noting that they have gone through valleys and shadows as well as looking to the mountains. They have been “hearing updates full of doubt and the unknown,” she says, but also have been “leaning in to our God who brings us peace and hope.”

Yesterday (Friday, February 21), on his 56th birthday, Derek and his wife, Krista, were especially grateful. Derek is alert and communicating (by mouthing words, due to a tracheotomy). He started physical therapy on his birthday, and the nursing staff even took him outside in the beautiful Seattle sun as a birthday present. He loved it!

The family asks for your continued prayers:
• for Derek’s physical therapy to help regain muscle strength;
• for continued healing and of his lungs so the trach can be removed;
• for peace and strength for Krista and their kids;
• for Philadelphia Church during Derek’s absence;
• for the church leadership team.

“This is a time for God to shine in and through us,” says Krista. “We believe in the power of prayer! Thank you for partnering with us.”